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Tess Vigeland: Student loans weren't the only topic that got you all hot and bothered enough to write in. Time for some more listener letters, and let's go long on this one -- long term.
Recently we talked with author Roger Lowenstein about how important it is for investors to focus on the long term when dabbling in the stock market. Gary Leach of Prescott, Ariz. called in to reiterate that it's way easier said than done.
Gary Leach: Time and time again my wife and I have been shown the long term, 20 year outlook, or our diversified portfolio and intellectually, we get it. Viscerally, however, the last several months have been a punch to the gut. And when one is in pain, the intellect has a very rough go making it's point.
Here's something else that's easier said than done -- that do it yourself project languishing in the basement. We recently heard a story on how hiring folks to help with those projects just might be more efficient than the DIY part. Sarah Wormiel of Jamaica Plain, Mass. disagreed.
Sarah Wormiel: So some people screw up. That doesn't mean people should always hire someone to do everything for them. People should be encouraged to be self-reliant. And if they screw up, they'll learn something.
But Michael Covington of Athens, Ga. must have his own experience DIY gone wrong, because he knows the true downside.
Michael Covington: The real problem with do it yourself is that you can't spread the risk among multiple jobs. If you're a professional, you can build the risk into your charges so that when you have to fix up and expensive mishap, you can absorb the cost. If you're a do-it-yourself-er and the expensive mishap happens, you're sunk.
In last week's "Straight Story," Chris and I jawed over the mishaps that sank a couple of Obama administration nominees -- tax mishaps. Chris advocated for simplifying the tax code. Many of you wrote in to point out that the issues involved in those scuttled nominations weren't terribly complex.
But Phil Nichol of Longmont, Colo. thinks maybe there's a way to get tax reform back on the national agenda. He writes, "Why not mandate that all members of Congress do their own taxes with a pencil, paper and a calculator? And if they run into trouble, they can call the public IRS help line."
I like that idea. And I'm guessing Nina Olson would too. She's the National Taxpayer Advocate. And we spoke with her a few weeks back about why taxes are so hard and why the IRS is so mean. But David Ashland of Troy, Mich. called in defense of the tax man.
David Ashland: The IRS has found errors on my tax returns that favored me financially and they have refunded the money immediately. Often the IRS is viewed by the public as being adversarial. They're simply doing their job, and I believe they're doing it well.